DEL MAR, Calif. -- It couldn't touch last year's running of the Breeders' Cup Distaff in either excitement or sentimentality, but that didn't matter to the connections of Forever Unbridled, who won only the second race she's ever run west of Houston.
The first race was last year when she finished third in the Distaff to Beholder and Songbird at Santa Anita. Those two have been retired, so it only made sense this 5-year-old mare would win the $2-million race.
The sentimental choice, Stellar Wind, previously undefeated at Del Mar and running her last race, finished last for the first time in her 16-race career in the 11/16-mile race.
Forever Unbridled ran her typical race, sitting near the back of the eight-horse field until midway in the far turn. Then she turned on the jets, running around and through horses, and poking her head in front at the top of the stretch. Then she just kept the momentum going and held off Abel Tasman to win by a half-a-length. Paradise Woods was third and the favorite, Elate, was fourth.
It would have been impossible to top last year's Distaff, when undefeated Songbird and retiring Beholder hooked up in a stretch duel for the ages, with Beholder winning by a nose.
Trainer Dallas Stewart was elated at what Forever Unbridled brought to Del Mar.
"I'm just blessed," Stewart said. "She's such a great filly. A championship was on the line and she's three for three (for the year). ... She's had that spacing (being raced lightly) and she's been very successful with that. Last year she had an injury and we gave her plenty of time. (Owner) Chuck (Fipke) was right about putting her back in training. He didn't have to. He could have just retired her already as a Grade 1 winner. He opted to bring her back and the injury wasn't bad and she was never sore. ... She's the best I've trained."
It was Stewart's second Breeders' Cup win in 14 starts. He last won with Unbridled Elaine in the 2001 Distaff.
Forever Unbridled paid $9.40 to win, $5.00 to place and $3.40 to show.
Stewart, at the urging of owner Fipke, made a jockey change in this race, taking off Joel Rosario and replacing him with John Velazquez. It proved to be a smart move.